Illinois Football: Illini in the NFL – 2023 preseason week 1

The NFL preseason has started, and former Illinois football players are scattered throughout.

Some of the Illini players who don NFL jerseys play positions that don’t show up on the box score. Sorry, Teddy Karras and others who may have played in the first week of the preseason. You aren’t going to be on this list.

But plenty of former Illinois talent got a chance to show off their skills to the world. These players are trying to either make an NFL team or elevate their status on the depth chart.

Here is how former Illinois football players performed in the NFL – preseason week 1

LB Jake Hansen (Houston Texans)

Now in his second year in the NFL, Jake Hansen has started to establish himself in the Houston Texans linebacker corps. In the first preseason game, he was second on the team in tackles.

  • Stats: 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles vs. New England Patriots

DT Calvin Avery (Minnesota Vikings)

Looking to make the Minnesota Vikings roster after not getting drafted in 2023, Calvin Avery has some work to do. He is projected as the third-string nose tackle.

  • Stats: 2 tackles vs. Seattle Seahawks

RB Chase Brown (Cincinnati Bengals)

It was an exciting first game for the up-and-coming running back. Chase Brown is fighting for the second-string position in Cincinnati, and a performance like his on Friday should bolster his chances.

  • Stats: 8 carries, 12 yards; 3 receptions, 33 yards; 1 tackle vs. Green Bay Packers

DE Owen Carney (Cincinnati Bengals)

Chase Brown isn’t the only former Illinois player logging stats this past weekend. Owen Carney also surfaced for the Bengals. He is fighting to make the team right now, as Carney is deep on the defensive end depth chart.

  • Stats: 3 tackles, 1 solo vs. Green Bay Packers

QB Tommy DeVito (New York Giants)

Illinois has a quarterback in the NFL once again. It has been a long time, but Tommy DeVito is trying to make a name for himself in New York. Look for DeVito to be a serious contender for the backup job with the Giants.

  • Stats: 15-of-24, 155 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception; 4 carries, 11 yards vs. Detroit Lions

C Kendrick Green (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Wait, why is a center on this list when offensive linemen aren’t getting shine? Well, Kendrick Green registered a stat in the box score. The talented center had some negative spotlight this past weekend.

  • Stats: 1 fumble vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

K Chase McLaughlin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

I think Chase McLaughlin has been with just about every NFL team, but he continues to latch on each season. This time around, he is with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he is in a fight for the starting job.

  • Stats: 2 extra points vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

S Jartavius Martin (Washington Commanders)

Illinois has a lot of talent with the Washington Commanders. They picked Quan Martin early in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he is putting up some numbers early on in the preseason.

  • Stats: 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles vs. Cleveland Browns

LB Milo Eifler (Washington Commanders)

I am impressed how Milo Eifler has been able to stick around the NFL. It is hard to go undrafted and put together a long NFL career. Eifler is fighting for depth chart positioning, so having a good preseason is crucial.

  • Stats: 4 tackles, 3 solo tackles vs. Cleveland Browns

S Kendall Smith (Washington Commanders)

Another player who is just trying to stick on the roster is Kendall Smith. After going undrafted, Smith was signed by Washington. He is projected as the third-string strong safety right now.

  • Stats: 1 tackle, 1 solo tackle vs. Cleveland Browns

WR Malik Turner (Indianapolis Colts)

When you are projected as, at best, the 10th-best wide receiver on the depth chart, you have to show out in the preseason. Malik Turner put together a great first impression on the Colts by leading the team in receiving.

  • Stats: 4 receptions, 48 yards vs. Buffalo Bills

S Sydney Brown (Philadelphia Eagles)

A rising player on the Philadelphia Eagles depth chart is safety, Sydney Brown. Selected high in the 2023 NFL Draft, Brown continues to impress and is likely to be, at worst, the second-string safety to start the season. He led the Eagles in tackles in the first preseason game.

  • Stats: 9 tackles, 9 solo tackles vs. Baltimore Ravens

LB Del’Shawn Phillips (Baltimore Ravens)

While Sydney Brown led the Eagles in tackles, another former Illinois football player led the Ravens in tackles. Del’Shawn Phillips is pretty safe on the depth chart as a second-string player, but he continues to show out in each game.

  • Stats: 10 tackles, 5 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss vs. Philadelphia Eagles